Turkey’s Assertiveness in and around Cyprus: South China Sea Redux?



The discovery of significant offshore oil & gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean in the past few years has drawn increased attention to this strategical area at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. Hydrocarbon deposits are also believed to lay under the waters surrounding Cyprus; but while exploration activities have generally fostered cooperation elsewhere, around the island the situation is different. Turkey, which has occupied the northern part of Cyprus since the 1974 crisis triggered by a Greece-backed coup, has been leveraging the presence of a Turkish minority and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to assert its rights over the oil & gas deposits close to the island. This has raised concern in the region and in the European Union, which imposed sanctions on Turkey over its drilling activities in and around Cyprus.

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